Archives for General News

Fla. Still Offers First-Time Buyer Programs

By Kerry Smith Some first-time buyers think they can’t afford a home – but they don’t know where to look. In addition to national and local programs, Fla. offers 3 possible options. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Even though cash remains king to many home sellers, a range of programs exist to help first-time homebuyers with down payments and/or closing costs. In Florida, the state administers three programs through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). According to FHFC, the programs operate like second loans when using one of FHFC’s first-mortgage loan programs. They include: The Florida Assist (FL Assist) offers up to
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Why so Few Homeowners Selling? It’s Complicated

By Lew Sichelman Many want to sell and move, but they feel stuck. Some don’t have the income to qualify for a bigger mortgage; others worry about total costs of a relocation. SARASOTA, Fla. – New affordability estimates show why so few houses are on the market: Owners who might want to sell may not be able to afford to buy another house. Even if they could find one. Forget for a moment that there’s a record low number of houses for sale, and just consider costs. Even using the profits from the sale of their current home, many sellers
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Condo Q&A: Which Insurance Covers a Fire?

By Harris Katz A condo owner suffered damage after a fire in a nearby unit. Which insurer pays for that, the condo association’s or the personal policy he has on his unit? PALM BEACH, Fla. – Question: I am an owner in a condominium in Palm Beach County. There was recently a fire in an adjoining unit that caused damage to my unit. What is covered by my insurance policy versus the condominium’s insurance policy? – Palm Beach, Fla. Answer: Generally speaking, the condominium association insures your building and the common elements of the building under an insurance policy, typically
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Realtors Celebrate Fair Housing Month

By Kerry Smith This April, Realtors celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act with special events that symbolize their recommitment to expanding equal access to housing.  WASHINGTON – The Fair Housing Act created a sea change of U.S. laws to guarantee that all Americans – regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, and disability – had an equally fair shot at the American dream of homeownership. While the nation still hasn’t fully come to terms with equal access for all, the Act was the first and perhaps biggest step in getting there. For Realtors, April
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Property Taxes in Fla. Metros Cheaper than Most

LendingTree ranked 50 U.S. metro areas. At No. 24, Miami was solidly average, but property taxes in three other state metro areas ranked from No. 11 to No. 14. NEW YORK – Property taxes vary significantly across the nation’s 50 largest metros. How much homeowners pay in property taxes largely depends on where they live and what their home is worth. Homeowners in the lowest property tax metro, Birmingham, Ala., pay about $7,700 less than their counterparts in the New York metro area, which has the highest property taxes in the U.S. Property taxes in Birmingham average $753 (homes without
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Fla. Regulator: Insurers Can Offer Roof Deductibles

By Kerry Smith A bill to make homeowners pay roof-replacement deductibles failed, but OIR says it can be an insurer option, such as lower premiums for owners willing to take a risk. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida has had a rash of insurance claims alleging damaged roofs covered under their homeowner’s property insurance policy, and the 2022 Florida Legislature considered a fix that would have charged homeowners a deductible if their roof needed replacement following a covered event. However, the bill, SB 1728, passed the Senate but failed in the House. While the Florida Legislature may return to Tallahassee for a
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Average Weekly Mortgage Rates Soar Past 4.5%

At 4.67%, this week’s average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is up from last week’s 4.42% and notably higher than 3.18% one year ago. WASHINGTON (AP) – Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose again this week as the key 30-year loan rate vaulted over 4.5% and attained its highest level since the end of 2018. Against a backdrop of inflation at a four-decade high, the increases in home loan rates come a few weeks after the Federal Reserve raised by a quarter point its benchmark short-term interest rate – which it had kept near zero since the pandemic recession
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Another Fla. Insurer Will Likely Be Dissolved

By Ron Hurtibise Insurers need an A rating from Demotech, a ratings firm, to remain viable, and Lighthouse Property Ins.’ loss of an A make its future business unlikely. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In yet another ominous sign for Florida’s failing property insurance market, Tampa-based Lighthouse Property Insurance Corp. lost its financial stability rating, which means it will likely be placed under state receivership and dissolved. On Wednesday, ratings firm Demotech announced the withdrawal, effective Tuesday, of Lighthouse’s former A rating. “Despite a substantial capital contribution in the fourth quarter 2021, the operating loss in 2021, which reflected the evaluation of
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RealTrends 500: Largest Brokerages By Sides, Volume

The 2022 survey is based on 2021 data. No. 1 for sides is HomeServices of America Inc. (388,098). For sales volume it’s Compass: $251,019,336,511. NEW YORK – Which brokerages are emerging as the giants in the real estate space? The RealTrends 500 report ranks the performance of the top residential real estate brokerage firms each year. The 2022 survey is based on 2021 data. RealTrend’s Top 10 brokerages ranked by closed transaction sides HomeServices of America Inc. 2021 transaction sides: 388,098 Realogy Brokerage Group 2021 transaction sides: 376,892 eXp Realty 2021 transaction sides: 355,627 Compass 2021 transaction sides: 224,067 Hanna
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DeSantis: We Need to ‘Do More’ On Insurance

By Jim Turner More needs done to fix Fla.’s property insurance market, and the governor expects the Legislature to “have another bite of the apple very, very shortly.” TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis expects lawmakers to make changes in Florida’s troubled property-insurance system sometime this year, at the latest after the November elections. DeSantis did not include property insurance issues as part of a special session that he called Tuesday on congressional redistricting, leaving a decision on insurance to legislative leaders. But he said more legislative action is needed after lawmakers passed a property insurance bill in 2021. The
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